Saturday, February 11, 2017

mardi gras chaser 5/10k race information

Disclaimer: I received entry for Back on My Feet Mardi Gras Chaser 5/10k to review as part of being a BibRave Pro.

The Back on My Feet Mardi Gras Chaser 5/1k is just 14 days away! I ran last year and had a GREAT time. You can read my recap here if you like. The start/finish are at Montrose Harbor and the course runs along the lakefront path. The race is on Saturday, February 25 with a 10am race start. I do enjoy races that have a later start time – gives me more time to sleep haha. Also, in the winter, it's always a good idea to start a bit later in order for the day to 'warm' up a bit. Below are some helpful and fun details about the race along with more info on Back on My Feet.

'On Saturday, February 25th shake the winter blues and join us for the most festive race to ever hit Montrose Harbor - the Back on My Feet Chicago’s Mardi Gras Chaser 5/10K. Let the good times roll at the ONLY 10k in the first quarter! There will be masks, music, and motivation. 

Need one more reason to join us? So many races are for charity... but few are for a charity that is all about running! Back on My Feet Chicago uses the power of running to help change the lives of those experiencing homelessness in our city. All proceeds from the race will support Back on My Feet in providing programming to change lives one job, house, and mile at a time.'

10K -$50 until February 23rd
5K - $40 until February 23rd

Sleep in Option: $20 per person. Do you want to support Back on My Feet but don’t want to roll out of bed for the race? Then register for the Sleep in Option, you will receive the race swag but don’t have to leave the comfort of your bed.  

Save $5 on registration using code RAVE (valid through 2/23 at Noon, which is when online registration closes).

Also, if you completed the F^3 Lake Half Marathon on January 28, and complete the Mardi Gras 10k, you'll receive the Frozen Frostbitten Challenge medal!

Friday, February 24th from 10am–8pm at Fleet Feet Sports Old Town, 1620 N. Wells Street

If you would like to pick up someone else's packet please come with their e-mail confirmation. There will be race day packet pick up as well from 8–9:30am. But we encourage you to get your packet in advance if possible.

Quarter Zip and 10k finishers receive beads/medal (see below for photo of medal).

The course is an out and back.
In true Mardi Gras fashion, the race will kick off with a parade of runners. You will set off and flash your speed heading west along the Harbor to the main lakefront path and turn south where you will run down to the North end of Belmont Harbor for the 5k and South end of Diversey Harbor for the 10k. There, you will gain extra energy from our motivation station before turning back north and returning to race village at Montrose Harbor.

If you are coming from the South it is easiest to access the race from Montrose and Lakeshore Drive. If you are coming from the North is it best to access the race from Foster and Lakeshore Drive. Parking is available on Montrose and Simonds, which is metered. There is also a metered parking lot at Foster and Simonds.

8:30 a.m.    Gear Check Open
9:30 a.m.    Race announcements and music
9:45 a.m.    Warm up
9:50 a.m.    National Anthem
10:00 a.m.  Race start

The party will continue at Fat Cat, 4840 N. Broadway. Every runner will receive a free beer and there will be food galore. $15 Buffet will include the following perfect post run New Orleans fair:
  • Yogurt bar: Greek yogurt, house made granola, fresh fruit, sliced almonds, sprinkles, and honey
  • Bananas Foster Brulee French Toast
  • Chicken Fried Chicken with gravy...
  • Red Beans and Rice
  • House made Biscuits with Fat Cat home made jam and whipped butter
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Brunch potatoes
  • Bacon
Some background on Back on my Feet:
  • BoMF Chicago was founded in September 2010.
  • The main focus is helping the homeless get back on their feet through the power of community & running.
  • BoMF helps them find housing, education, and jobs through running.
  • Run every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 545am throughout the year
  • 70% of homeless population is living in a shelter, but don’t have their own address. Run out of the homeless facilities with the help of community volunteers.
  • First 30 days, BoMF asks that they are positive and present and maintain 90% attendance, which is missing just one run.
  • Once they identify as runners, they don’t identify as homeless anymore and gives them the motivation to take on more in life.
  • After 30 days, they sit down with staff to build a road map of what goals look like, and what next steps are to take on in life – go back to school, get truck driver license, go back to work, ideas for housing.
  • Provide financial aid, but they earn it through joining the runs. Help pay for beds, down payment, etc.
  • $1 donation puts $2.25 back into the community. 30% success rate.
  • BOMF pays to outfit them to keep running.

If a fun race isn't enough incentive to get you to register, maybe the idea of helping the homeless in Chicago get back on their feet through running is :) This race was so much fun last year, and part of it was seeing the BoMF members out there running (some their first race ever) and seeing the joy on their face.

Maybe you aren't interested in racing, but can volunteer your time? Head here to fill out the form (the form seems to be down at the moment, so if that's not available, maybe shoot an email over -

Monday, February 6, 2017

2017 goals

Alright, we're already into the second month of the year, and I thought it might be a good time to finally chat about my goals for the year (yes, yes, I'm late haha).

I'm not into resolutions. Maybe it's just the use of the word, but to me it hold some negative connotations as something that always fails. I prefer to say goals, and I feel like they can be big or small, or maybe a group of small ones that lead to a big one. Either way, I work hard to achieve my goals, and it takes a lot of dedication, as I'm sure the majority of you are aware.

  1. 2017 miles in 2017. I joined the challenge again this year. I met 2016 last year in that I counted every step and mile I accumulated throughout the day. I hit 2016 in November. Total activity miles (running and walking activity data from Garmin) was 1207.8. A huge increase from 2016. For 2017 I plan to use only walking and running data (not all steps/miles accumulated throughout the day, but when I go for a walk or run). I have doubts that I'll hit 2017, but the real goal is to get more than last year.
  2. PR the Half Marathon Distance. I'm writing this set of goals late, but I've had them in my head, and I actually hit a PR at my first race of the year by nearly 6 minutes! Mission accomplished. However, of course it isn't quite good enough. I want to hit a 2:45 HM this year, so that's what I'm aiming for next.
  3. 6 hour marathon finish. I am currently registered for two marathons currently – Illinois Marathon at the end of April and Chicago Marathon in October. I'd love to get that finish time in April, but if not, I feel it's definitely achievable in October as long as training keeps going as is. This might be a lofty goal as I need to take off about 17 minutes off my current PR to beat this. I think it's attainable, though. I've been working hard and my pace is improving, and I feel like it's something I can push my way towards by the end of the year, if not sooner. And if not, then it gives me a goal to keep working towards in 2018. (PS Want to run Illinois Marathon, Marathon Relay, Half Marathon, 10k, or 5k? Use code bibravebonus to save $10. You can also use it on any of the I-Challenges (Full, half, etc). Read more here or here.
  4. Race at least once a month. This usually isn't too hard a task, but I like to keep it on my list so I don't forget. I think I have just about all of the months covered... I need a March race and I think maybe June and August.
  5. Continue to up my hydration game. Last year I improved leaps and bounds on my water intake (cutting WAY back on pop). I want this to continue for 2017.
  6. Focus more on nutrition/diet (by diet I mean the food that I habitually eat... not a diet trend kind of thing like Paleo or anything). I know that better running performance and recovery has a lot to do with nutrtion, and I'd like to hone in on that a bit more (I never pay much attention to what I eat, and honestly, I love some Taco Bell, pizza, fries, beer, and Cheetoh's... so cutting back on eating that stuff is part of it). I have the cookbook Run Fast. Eat Slow. and have made three of the recipes in there and loved them all. That's rare for me. I'm very picky and don't always go for the healthiest options, and I'm not big on veggies, so that doesn't make it easy. I feel like some of the recipes help hide the veggies so I get their nutritional values, but not the taste (like carrots and zucchini in the Superhero Muffins).
  7. I originally forgot this one when I initially posted and just remembered as I was looking at my watch! Oops. I want to hit 10,000 steps a day. My watch is set as auto goal, so I'd love to hit that goal everyday, but I know some days it might not be feasible (as the more I hit my goal and go over, the more steps it wants me to do the next day haha). I believe I've hit 10,000 everyday so far and only missed the goal my watch set for me once. Not too shabby, for me at least. I know on days I didn't run I had a hard time hitting those 10,000... and honestly 5,000 sometimes wasn't even in the cards. By trying to hit goal 1, it helps me meet this goal each day as well.

So those are my main goals for the year. I know I won't always be perfect, but trying to improve my health and happiness is priority for me. I know if I stay focused and try hard, that's what matters most to me. Sure, I'll have slip ups, and that's ok. It's just about doing my best.

Do you set goals or resolutions?

Sunday, February 5, 2017

right not tight: legend compression leg sleeves review

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Legend Compression Leg Sleeves to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

I know some people don't believe in compression gear, but ever since I started using compression sleeves or tights, I've noticed a huge difference in both recovery and on the run relief of muscle soreness. I like to wear compression sleeves during longer runs to help prevent or deal with shin splints or tired calf muscles, and I also like to toss them on after a tough run to help my muscles recover before my next run.

I like trying different companies to see what I like and what works best, and LEGEND® is now on my short list of acceptable (for me) compression gear. What makes LEGEND® stand out (below info from the website)?

LEGEND® Compression Leg Sleeves | For Running, Cycling, Triathlon & all Sports
Our Legendary Compression Leg Sleeves are designed to provide all athletes with greater power output. They provide calf support, shin splint relief and reduce leg fatigue & soreness. LEGEND® uses medical grade graduated compression (15-20 mmHg) in our popular leg sleeves to provide a firm fit in the calves and shins to increase performance and endurance while stabilizing the muscles to help prevent injury. Our Legend Compression Leg / Calf Sleeves also feature the innovative “Power Band” at the ankle for incredible durability. These sleeves are built for running, cycling, triathlon, CrossFit, golf and most other sporting activities. Available in a wide range of colors to match your style.

  • Relieves shin splints, calf cramps and pulled muscles
  • 15-20 mmHg Graduated compression for increased athletic performance
  • Greater power output
  • Enhanced endurance
  • Increase oxygen levels and blood circulation
  • Reduced muscle fatigue, exertion and soreness
  • Faster recovery time
  • Promotes healing
  • Reduce vibration
  • Maximum blood flow for muscle performance
  • Reduction of lactic acid
  • Moisture wicking
  • Breathable, seamless construction for comfort
  • UV protection

What makes LEGEND the best choice?
  1. Medical Design Characteristics: With many different leg compression sleeves on the market, the LEGEND® Compression Leg Sleeves set themselves apart through the unique design characteristics brought in through our background in medical compression therapy. This allows runners, triathletes, cyclers, and all athletes alike to realize the greatest performance benefits of any compression calf sleeve in the world.
  2. Quality Assurance: Being Manufactured in the USA, our LEGEND® Compression Calf Sleeves, along with our other sports compression products, are subject to the highest level of quality assurance that you will find on the market. By adhering to more strict international quality guidelines, along with our own LEGENDARY standards, we guarantee these calf sleeves will not disappoint.
  3. Superior Style: We want all athletes, runners, triathletes, cyclers, and others alike, to look good and feel good while they are out there competing and training. We kept our design simple and understated. We want the focus to be on the athlete. The clean and professional look of our Compression Leg Sleeves is a look we are proud to see athletes around the world wearing!

Who benefits from Compression Leg Sleeves?
Runners: These calf sleeves were designed for all Sports, but the most prominent application is seen by runners. The calf sleeves are also categorized as sports compression sleeves and they will help improve endurance, increase power output, decrease shin splints and calf cramps, and keep you feeling cool and dry during your runs. If you are a runner looking for a great performance leg sleeve, then these were designed just for you. We want you to run longer, run faster and run healthy!

Triathletes: Many Triathletes use these calf sleeves during training racing. In a sport that puts ultimate pressure on your legs, these leg sleeves were designed to weather the storm of swimming, biking and running, so that triathletes can feel the support throughout their race.

Cyclers: When you are riding your bike for extended periods of time, maintaining the health of your feet and legs is critical. The LEGEND® Compression Leg Sleeves are designed to prevent shin splints and calf cramps that can hamper your rides, as well as improve overall blood flow and circulation to help you ride stronger for longer.

Team Sports: While not seen as much in team sports, we highly recommend these leg compression sleeves for basketball, football, and other team sports. Stabilize fast twitch lower leg muscles during quick change of direction sports to gain that 1/2 second edge over your competition. Team sport athletes will love the way these calf sleeves function and feel!

I love that the LEGEND® calf sleeves aren't crazy hard to get on and off. Much easier than some other sleeves/socks I've tried in the past. I have some big ol' calves, so oftentimes I find myself in the largest size possible, despite my height not matching what the size chart says, since you should go by calf circumference over height. So, sometimes they are really tight and impossible to get on/off. I was a little surprised when I saw the size chart, as I figured it'd be the same story – largest size would be me. However, my calf size landed within two of their sizes – the S/M and the L/XL. Since I didn't want them to be too loose, I figured I'd go with the smaller size. While they seem a tad short (or maybe it's just because I'm so used to other sleeves being so long since they are made for taller folks), I'm happy with the selection. 

They have a lot of great color options – definitely tough to make a decision, but I went with aqua. They also have black, blue, lavender, pink, white, and yellow.

Since it's been so cold since I received the compression leg sleeves, I've been wearing them on the treadmill for running and then post-run (sometimes I even wear them under my jeans when I leave the house haha).

A little legs up the wall after a long run.

Some other great features? LEGEND® is made in the USA. They also have a 30 day satisfaction guarantee. The price of the leg sleeves is $44.95, which is comparable to other brands on the market. Bonus: You can get 20% off your purchase using code rave20. If you've never tried compression before, or are looking to try a new brand, I'd give LEGEND® my stamp of approval and suggest you give them a try.

Some helpful Q&A from the website:
Question: Are these compression leg sleeves hard to get on and off?
Answer: Harder than a normal pair of long socks, yes, but in comparison to other compression socks and sleeves, no. This particular product features a therapeutic level of compression which fits right and not tight. This allows the sleeves to work, but not feel like they are so tight that you can’t get them on and off.

Question: Are these leg sleeves hot in the summer?
Answer: If you are in a hot environment for the summer then the heat is usually pretty unavoidable, but fortunately these calf sleeves are designed with an open stitch for ventilation on the calf to keep you moderately cool. They also feature a moisture wicking fabric that really helps to wick away any sweat and keep your legs/feet dry and fresh.

LEGEND® will be sponsoring #BibChat on Tuesday, February 7 at 8pm CT and I bet if you join the fun, there'll be some sweet giveaways! Follow BibRave and LEGEND® on twitter, use the hashtag #BibChat, answer some questions and interact with a group of fun runners. 

Connect with LEGEND®:
website | facebook | twitter | instagram | google+ | linked in

What did the other BibRave Pros have to say?
Nora | Jeremy | Jen

Friday, February 3, 2017

f^3 lake half marathon 2017 recap

Disclaimer: I received an entry for F^3 Lake Half Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

You can read a quick-read version of my review on

I've run the F^3 Lake Half Marathon for the past two years, so of course wanted to run again in 2017. I like to run at least one race a month, and F^3 has become my go-to. It's a unique race as pre- and post- race you get to hang out in the warm United Club at Soldier Field. I also really appreciate that after every race, they send out a survey for participants to fill out to help them improve the following year. They actually take the responses to heart and make changes where necessary. The race this year was on Saturday, January 28 with a 10am start time for the half marathon and 10:30am for the 5k.

The BibRave Pros ready to take on the cold!

This year there were SIX days of packet pickup, and they weren't all in the city. THANK YOU! I was able to go to Running for Kicks on Tuesday night to grab packets for Mark, my mom, and myself. Pickup was quick and easy, and in your drawstring bag you received your bib, a thin, long sleeve tech 1/4 zip pullover, and a KIND bar.

1/4 zip pullover.

We got to Soldier Field a little before 9, and waited a few minutes to get through the line for parking. The parking at Soldier Field North Garage was discounted for runners at $19 (usually 20–30 depending on the event/day). You could go straight from the garage to the United Club without stepping outside. My mom grabbed her additional shirt that she purchased (left overs from last year's race) and dropped that back in the car while I met up with Mark and Kim. We chatted for a few and took our pre-race photo before parting ways. I met back up with Mark after he did gear check and then Mark, the RD of Run Laughlin, came up to chat for a few. This was our first time meeting him in person, as he recently moved to Chicago. Really nice guy. We also got to briefly chat with Chicago Ultra 50 of twitter fame :)

Mark toeing the line.

With about 20 minutes till race time we used the bathrooms, which seemed like long lines, but moved pretty quickly (and hey - water and soap!). 
10 minutes before the race half marathoners were being ushered outside to the start line. There were pace signs set up so runners could line-up according to their expected pace. I believe they went up to 12mm. We took our place at the back of the pack. The National Anthem was sung, and then it was time to start. I'm not sure how many 'corrals' or waves there were, but the back started at about 10:10. 

CES was pacing (new this year) and they had finish times of: 1:30, 1:40, 1:50, 2:00, 2:10, 2:20, 2:30 – run/walk (5/1), 2:45 – run/walk (5/1), 3:00 – run/walk (4/2 or 3/2), 3:30 (sweep) walk. I didn't run with a pacer, but my goal was to stay ahead of the 3 hour group.

Mom and I were running our own races this time around. We often run together, but I knew she would be ok on the course herself, since it was mostly just a simple out and back that we've done before, so I wanted to use my own run/walk intervals and see how it went. I hadn't run 13.1 miles since November's Wine and Dine, and I took most of December off due to illness, so I honestly wasn't expecting to do great. My 11 miler the weekend before had not gone as I had hoped, so I just wanted to finish by 3 hours. I've only finished under 3 hours once... so to be under I would be very happy.

I was feeling good and did 70/30 intervals. I told myself that if I hit 5 miles and needed, I could change to 60 seconds of running. I hit 5, and though felt a bit fatigued, I wanted to push myself so said hit 6, hit 7, hit 8. At 8 I brought it down to 60. I loved getting to see Mark and Kim on the course to high-five and cheer them on. It also distracted me as I was keeping an eye out for them rather than paying attention to my pace or thinking about being tired.

I brought my own hydration, but there were 4 aid stations which you hit twice (out and back), with Gatorade and water. I took water from one of the stations. Around mile 8ish they also handed out Gatorade chews which was a nice touch. That doesn't happen at too many 13.1 races.

Course Map.

The course took us around Soldier Field and then onto the LFP. Though the path can be narrow, i didn't notice too much congestion or problems. The path was clear of ice and there were a few puddles, but they were pretty easy to avoid. Any other issues on the path were clearly marked with a cone. 

I'm not great with math or figuring out pacing while on the run, but when I hit mile 10 and saw my time, I knew that I would be close to hitting a PR if I kept up with the pace I had. I figured if I did, it would be about a two minute PR (finishing at about 2:52). I was getting tired, but the idea of hitting a new PR, something I was aiming for this year, and doing it at my first race of the year, kept me motivated. 

I think this was around mile 9 or 10.

I finished and was UNDER 2:50. I was not expecting that at all. After I found my previous PR and looked up my official finish time, I ended with a new PR that beat my old one by 5:53. Whoa. I was really impressed with myself haha. The real goal I'm hoping to hit this year is under 2:45 so I can use it for proof of time for Dopey Challenge and get a better corral placement. I kept thinking about how much my pace needed to improve in order to get from my PR at the time down to 2:45 and it seemed daunting and impossible. This race/pace showed me that I CAN do it. I need to cut off about 3.5 more minutes, but I feel that will definitely be doable this year. Especially since I am working on getting my run intervals longer and cutting back on the walking.

I think another reason I was able to PR was that I went into the race with low expectations and no pressure. I just wanted to get through it not feeling miserable. When I have a goal race, I seem to put a lot of pressure on myself, for whatever reason, and end up failing hard... which leads to a lack of confidence. I need to learn how to not put so much pressure on a race and just run it and have fun, trust in the training, and hope that translates into the PRs I'm looking for.

At the finish line (after picking up my snacks - notice the bagel in hand haha.

At times the wind really cut through me (16–22mph winds/gusts), but it wasn't too bad. On the LPF there isn't anything to help cut the wind - no buildings or anything. It was about 26 degrees with a real feel of 16. I had my BUFF® to help cover my face when needed, and I think I dressed appropriately for the temps (I sometimes have trouble having too many or too less layers – it takes me a few months to hone in what works for me, and then it's spring haha. I typically try to follow this guide I have, but I usually run a little warmer so do a little less than it suggests). I took my gloves off at mile 1 and didn't need them again, though these two women around mile 9 were asking me where my gloves were haha. For whatever reason, my hands warm up when I run and are ok in 16 degree weather without gloves. It's strange because my hands are cold just about any other time.

At the finish line, you received your large 2017 finisher medal (half marathoners only), a full-sized bagel (multiple flavor options available), bottled water, bananas, Gatorade in cups, Muscle Milk, and crackers. 

I then waited for my mom to finish while cheering on the other runners. I wanted to be able to clap fully, so I didn't put my gloves on, which led to very cold hands. My mom was only a few minutes behind me, and the announcer was impressed with her age. She got a lot of cheers from people around for that, which was nice.

We went inside to warm up and I ran into a friend I met back in December at an ultra race that I went to cheer my friend Angie on at. We talked a bit and she convinced me to meet up with a group of ultra runners in February on the trails. Ahhhh what did I get myself into? Haha.

After we gave hugs and said our goodbyes, we headed to the Awards Table to see if my mom won anything. They looked up results and said 60–69 she was 5th place. Well, she is 70, so we were wondering why she was in the wrong age group, and then she looked again and said it was 60+. Ok, so we went home. I was so cold now being in my wet clothes, so I changed in the car and we drove home.

Official race photo. I only had two :(  This is towards the start.

Later, I was looking at the FAQ, and saw that he age groups should have been 60–64, 65–69, and 70+, so my mom actually should have gotten an award. A few days later they sent out an email saying photos were ready (free downloads!) and mentioned that there was a mistake with the age group awards (something to do with the timer and the initial upload) and that an updated list was now available. If you didn't get your award, you are able to go to the CARA office and pick it up. My small issue with this is I feel like since it was a mistake on their end, they should just mail them out. It would cost my mom more than what she won to get into the city to pick it up, so it's not really worth the time and effort. While I appreciate they give out so many awards for all of the male and female age groups of 5 years, it still kind of stinks that she has to go out of her way to go pick it up after she did try to get it at the awards table.

Anyway, with one minor complaint, I'll be back again next year. I really like the race and feel it's well-organized/managed and is unique in that we can stay warm before the race and warm back up after the race inside.

Mark and me before the race, the runners headed outside, me before the start,
me inside after the finish. Look at how bit the medal is!

There was an after party at Kroll's where you could grab your one free beer with your ticket from the bib (Pollyanna or Noon Whistle - both good craft breweries in Chicagoland) and a discount on food, but I had another engagement to get to, so wasn't able to attend. I heard it was hopping though.

What's next for me? I've got Back on My Feet Mardi Gras 10k on February 25 and then my main goal is training for Illinois Marathon in April.

Want to run either with me... or you know, your own race, but we'll both be there ;) you can use the below codes to save some dough.

Back on My Feet Mardi Gras Chaser 5k or 10k: code RAVE saves you $5. 

BONUS: Did you run the F^3 Lake Half Marathon? Run the BoMF Mardi Gras Chaser 10k and receive the Frozen Frostbitten Challenge medal!

Illinois Marathon: code bibravebonus saves you $10 on any race (excludes Youth Run)